Reflections shared at Congregational Forum, November 11, 2020
Thank you for joining us tonight for our congregational forum. No one could have predicted that 2020 would bring us so many challenges. I think it’s important that we take a look at where we have been and how God has blessed us even during this challenging season.

During this season, the following scripture provided me comfort from Psalm 27:13-14 “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” I feel like this season offers us the opportunity to learn what it means to wait and take heart.

As you all know, this year, in the middle of our building project, COVID struck and we were shut down…pretty much everything shut down. Within a few weeks, we received an exemption which allowed the building project to continue. Today, we touched every single aspect of the building. We have updated spaces for our ECOB-CC and our kids. We have a community room that’s welcoming and matches more closely our collective heart. In it our mission printed on the wall reminds us to live out our call at ECOB for the community. I’ve come to believe that as our building was being complete, God was building us up as a family.

We all found ourselves doing things differently, whether it was the way we shopped for groceries or how we connected for Bible study.  The ECOB staff was challenged on finding ways to keep us as a church body connected. In just a few weeks after the shut down and some learning curves, we have a fully operational on-line worship format. That in and of itself is amazing. If you haven’t reached out to our staff and thanked them for an awesome job, I’d encourage you to do that. God challenged us to ask how can we as a church body remain connected, even in the midst of isolation. Life groups met on Zoom. Then grew weekly on-line prayer meetings and Wednesday, “Cracked Pots” on Facebook. Children were encouraged with baskets dropped off at their houses. Power Packs needed a new home as the Rec closed and they also needed financial support to continue to feed our neighbors. Because of your financial giving, were able to provide both. Each week we partner with Power Packs to feed over 100 families in the EASD. Many at ECOB volunteer and relationships have been built. We encouraged our local healthcare workers and teachers with coffee. We delivered sunshine bags to people in our congregation that needed a pick me up. We made buckets for disaster relief. We delivered cards to nursing homes. We thanked our police and provided lunch for them. Although we couldn’t go on any mission trips this year, we’ve been able to support purchasing a water purification system for the DR. There has been so much good in spite of this difficult year. Currently, we’re be able to provide a space for our youth to meet on Wednesdays. We did all of this for God’s glory and so that other see Jesus with our actions.

COVID stretched us. The LT feels the responsibility of our role as we need to protect our most vulnerable. COVID can affect our physical, emotional, spiritual and financial wellbeing. We understand that COVID isn’t just a health issue. It’s an issue that affects the ability for many in our church to provide for their family. It can affect our member who are lonely in nursing homes. COVID can affect our children and their ability to learn. We have appreciated the diverse opinions and encouragement we’ve received. We’ve heard from many of you who understand that challenges we face. For many of us on the leadership team, we’ve weathered many COVID questions and concerns, almost daily. We are all COVID tired and pray for the day when we can return to being fully together again. However, we are not defeated. We will press into this season firmly understanding that God is still with us; he is still for us and we still have a mission. The LT continues to be prayerful and updated with the most current information. We cherish your prayers for us for wisdom and discernment as we go into the winter season.

Despite all of the distance that COVID tried to create, an absolutely amazing thing happened. We, at ECOB, learned that we can have differences of opinions and still continue to be moving forward, as a family. We learned that even with different thoughts and opinions, we can work toward finding a middle ground. During this season, the LT spent extra time in prayer, listening to the medical experts and trusting in our good Father. God’ goodness and provision was ample and evident during the spring, summer and up until today. This is evidenced in the completion of our building project, a focus outside of ourselves on local mission and a challenging sermon series that’s prepping us for the next best thing God will be doing through his people here at ECOB. Perhaps, as he spruced up our building, he also softened our hearts so that we can align ourselves more closely with the heart of Jesus.

My family, we are blessed and God is on the throne. We have seen and will continue to see the goodness of the Lord. I so appreciate each and every one of you and look forward to continue to do life together. Thank you again for taking time to be a part of our congregational forum.

Tricia Schlegel

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